Here is a draft excerpt from an article that I am working on the various imperatives for architecting enterprise applications using the principles of Service orientation. RTE is a Gartner term for enterprise apps that can react and respond in a “Real Enough“ mode to changes in business processes. There are various tools and technologies that address this problem from various angles but I have tried to keep the discussion from getting too implementation specific. I think SOA has a unique value prop in addressing hte needs of such applications. Full details will be available in my article. Here is the intro section from the chapter...

Real Time Enterprise ( RTE ) imperative

RTE is about establishing a business process to gain competitive advantage by removing the latency from underlying business practices. Generally speaking this might mean reduction of the half-life periods of business processes to speed up response rates of strategic decisions based on real time data and analysis. The definition of half-life varies greatly depending on the business process on hand. For example, in a order quotation scenario, the half life of responding to an RFI could be a couple of days while the half life of acting upon an inventory trigger in a Supply chain might be few minutes. While the absolute value of the half life is important, it is perhaps more critical to ensure a clear understanding of the context and how an application reacts to the context. Factors that influence the response times are as follows:

  1. Business process awareness
    1. Being aware of the context and the impending associated action is the first step towards acting in a “Real Enough” mode
  2. Data availability
    1. Once the application is aware of the context and knows what action needs to be taken, it should have the data that is required to take the required action. This data could come from structured or non structured sources or even from another extraneous service running somewhere on the internet
  3. Workflow
    1. Building on the previous step, the application should be able to execute the steps in a sequential manner as described by the meta data supporting the context of the business process.
  4. Transactional execution
    1. All the steps of the workflow should be transactional in nature as appropriate as it might involve steps that need to be executed in a safe and isolated manner. Elements of transactional processing like Isolation, Atomicity, Idempotence etc should be preserved
  5. Human intervention
    1. “Real-Enough” time applications are often subjected to scenarios that require human interventions in the workflow. By its very nature, this introduces a latency and unpredictability to the business process
  6. Analytics and Reporting
    1. Once the Business process has been implemented, it is time to reflect on the impact of the data and how it compares with other related pieces of actions over a period of time. This can be very powerful in not only understanding the patterns and behaviors of the Business process on hand but also to predict its behavior in a forward looking manner. Predictive Analytics is the technical term for this process of using historic data to model heuristic patterns that predict future behavior. 
    2. Reporting on the data is a critical piece of reducing the latency of Business processes. This feeds into the analytics described above and should be considered as an important piece of an RTE solution.